And then there were three.
Egypt’s presidential race is basically a three man race. It is a mixed race of men that includes a former minister to President Hosni Mubarak and two Islamists. This coming after an election commission provided a final list of 13 candidates last week.
Similar to our elections in the US, most of the candidates listed are there for publicity, resume building or ego.
Ironically, none of the top candidates represent the political interests of the largely liberal and secular youth responsible for last year’s uprising and the removal of Mubarak who had ruled Egypt for 30 years. Hopes of establishing a true democracy through one of the potential winners is not in play.
Photo Credit: WikiMedia Commons
No one is quite certain what is emerging.
Will the country of 85 million take a sharp turn towards a religious leader (much like Iran) or remain basically a secular state. The outcome is highly unpredictable leaving the Western powers, including Israel, wondering what the “new” Egypt will look like.
Islamists showed their electoral power in parliamentary elections late last year, in which the unpredictable Muslim Brotherhood and members of the ultraconservative Salafi movement took approximately 30 percent of the seats.
But now in the presidential race, their backers are split down the middle between the Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohammed Morsi, and the more moderate Islamist, Abdel-Moneim Aholfotoh.
Then there is former Former Minister Amr Moussa to consider. He has emerged in the last few weeks, as the strongest alternative. As a secular candidate, he has carefully separated himself from the old Mubarak regime – gaining endorsements from both of his opponents’ factions.
He is still mistrusted by many, for playing down his close relationship with the man who was thrown out 14 months ago.
His most popular rival of the two more religious candidates would be Aholfotoh who is garnering support from both the Islamists and liberals, who find Moussa a highly questionable alternative to the old regime.
Then there is the wild card in the race – the military. Although they have openly said they will hand over control of the government to the winner of next months’ election, many believe they have no intention of walking away from power with no clear foothold in the door.
The biggest loser in this whole situation are the liberal youth groups responsible for Mubarak’s ouster in February, 2011. They have been denounced by both the generals, Islamists and a powerful political machine that has allied with the military against all the other parties.
The world will be watching the elections carefully to see what a new Egypt brings to the Middle East and northern Africa.